It looks like Barry Bonds' pursuit of Hank Aaron's home run record will be recorded on cardboard.
Topps announced this week that Bonds had re-signed with the company for 2007 and will appear only on Topps baseball cards this season. The agreement also gives Topps exclusive rights to Bonds autographed and game-used cards, as well as use of the slugger's likeness on product packaging.
In a company press release, Topps shared a few of its plans for Bonds. He will appear in Topps Series 2 Baseball, marking the 22nd straight year he will appear in the manufacturer's base brand. Memorabilia cards can be found beginning with Triple Threads Baseball - due to hit stores in late April - and the continuing Home Run History insert set that follows his chase for Aaron's mark will pick back up in Topps Updates & Highlights.
It's not unusual for MLB players to sign exclusive deals for autographs and game-used cards, as Topps did with Ryan Howard earlier in 2007. But Bonds is a special case as he is the only current player to need an individual contract to appear on regular baseball cards, a result of his decision to opt out of the Major League Baseball Player's Association's group licensing agreement in late 2003.
Bonds was the first union member in the history of the MLBPA not to sign the agreement, though the sports card industry is familiar with similar situations in other sports. The most recent example before Bonds was NFL linebacker LaVar Arrington choosing not to sign his union's agreement in 2000, which led to one of his rookie cards getting released with his picture cut out of it.
Topps first signed an individual contract with Bonds in late 2004, and he has not appeared on another company's baseball cards since then.